Sunday, 21 September 2014

Generation Yes say: we'll never forget this...we don't want to give up now

Morgan Horn was one of the thousands of young 16 to 17-year olds who found themselves casting their votes for the first time for Yes.

Energised and enthused by the campaign, she said that thousands of her fellow teenagers have now developed a taste for politics and a desire to continue campaigning for a fairer, socially just Scotland.

A poll taken after the vote shows that 71% of teenagers who gained the right to vote with the historic decision to extend the franchise ticked their box for Yes.

Horn, 18, intends to channel her now-growing political awareness into action in the coming months, with other like-minded teens who joined the grass-roots Generation Yes group in her native Glasgow.

She said: "We'll come back stronger. We can be proud that so many young people became engaged in the campaign and decided that they wanted to vote for a better country and to back a Yes vote.

"I know that I can continue to campaign for change in the country and carry on the fight for an independent Scotland."

Still a schoolgirl when the referendum campaign was launched two years ago, Horn said that she was initially neutral and wanted to keep an open mind before committing to either cause.

A debate organised for young people opened her eyes to the potential of an independent Scotland, leading to her becoming politically active for the first time in her life.

She said: "There was a youth debate organised in Glasgow City Chambers, and I went along and listened to both sides before making my mind up.

"The Yes campaign really impressed me and I found something that I really wanted to be a part of.

"I saw so much energy and passion from the Yes campaigners, and I decided that I wanted to wake up in an independent Scotland on the 19th."

She began talking to other Yes groups in the area and then took the plunge to join the burgeoning Generation Yes group, which was quickly coming together, drawn from a spontaneous movement of like-minded young people. Horn joined more than 100 young activists and campaigners to hit the streets and help work towards a Yes vote by convincing as many people as possible to join the cause.

Horn said: "Generation Yes is a great movement to be part of, and I am very proud of everything we managed to achieve.

"We were out on the streets, handing out leaflets, stickers and reading material, and running stalls and answering people's questions.

"I've never been involved with something like that before and it's an experience I'll never forget. I don't want to give up now and I'm going to keep this fire burning.

"We're taking a break now that the result has come in, but we'll get back together soon to decide what we're going to do and how we can take the movement on."

Her campaign was sprinkled with moments that will stay long in the memory, formed as she travelled round the country trying to convince others to vote Yes.

Horn said: "My proudest moment was the launch of the 'Our Scotland, Our Future' document, which set out the group's vision for an independent Scotland.

"It contained all our thoughts on what the country should look like, and called for an end to austerity and a universal declaration of equality, and said that we should always get the governments we vote for.

"We launched it at the top of Buchanan Street in Glasgow, and Nicola Sturgeon was there. Then we went on a bus tour around Scotland, stopping in places like Falkirk and Stirling to get other young people to sign it."

She added: "Then there were other, less high-profile moments. Like the day of the referendum itself, when I went to vote. I was there at 7am, but stayed outside for a while, and later a man came along. He was angry and in a bad place, but when he came out he thanked me for smiling at him and I knew he was a Yes voter."

Horn continued: "It was quite emotional, thinking I had made a difference to him."

Although the excitement of campaigning every day is now over, and the future uncertain, Horn said that there was little chance of the young independence movement drifting away.

She said that Scotland was now a better place thanks to the debates of the last two years.

Horn said: "This country has changed for the better. We are just not going to sit back down and be quiet again.

"There are so many young people who have become political that nothing is going to be the same again."

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